JOE BIDDLE: Sports world filled with lies - WKRN News 2

JOE BIDDLE: Sports world filled with lies

Photo courtesy of the Associated Press Photo courtesy of the Associated Press
Photo courtesy of the Associated Press Photo courtesy of the Associated Press

Liar, liar. Bicycle pants on fire.

Can't anyone in the sports world tell the truth? Evidently, ‘fessing up is hard to do.

The champion of all liars is Lance Armstrong. You've got to admire a man who lived a lie for the number of years Armstrong did. He took those lies with him over steep and winding mountain roads on a bicycle whose seat was made for anorexics.

He took those lies with him to beat drug testing. He offered more denials than Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire put together.

Armstrong had almost everyone convinced he was drug free, despite widespread accusations that "everyone'' in the professional cycling world was doping.

Armstrong will be a first ballot inductee in the Lying Hall of Fame.

He did make cycling pertinent to some low level degree in the United States. But the Tour de France was the Super Bowl of cycling and he won seven of those competitions, considered by many as the most grueling athletic test in sports.

Armstrong's life struggles made him a worldwide hero. He not only beat cancer, he kicked its butt. He won millions riding his bicycle at breakneck speeds. He built a Livestrong foundation that raised millions in dollars for research and awareness.

His yellow Livestrong bracelets were all the rage for years. Families bought them. Grandparents wore them. Kids bought them and pretended they were Lance Armstrong. Middle age men dressed in spandex cycling uniforms cluttered public roads doing what they first learned to do as little kids – riding bicycles. These were not bikes of our youth. No playing cards were attached to the tire spokes, making them sound like motorcycles, or so we fantasized.

Armstrong made cycling sexy.

But when the evidence against him grew higher than any mountain course he ever conquered, he decided to come clean. I would hope it lifted that burden he has been carrying around.

Armstrong now faces the prospect of losing everything. The lawsuits he will have to fight could leave him a broken man. He wants to compete in triathlons and other professional competitions, but he may never regain that right.

Then you have the case of Notre Dame All-American linebacker Manti Te'o.

His story is about as convoluted as they come. I'm not convinced that even he knows the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

It involves what he claims is a hoax aimed at him. It involved a Stanford co-ed that did not exist. Whoever Lennay Kekua may or may not be, she allegedly carried on an on-line romance with Te'o for years. He never saw her, never met her, yet claimed he loved her.

When she "died,'' from leukemia, he grieved and shared his story with his teammates and members of the media.

Her name was never found in an obituary. There was no evidence of a funeral, or who her family was.

When Te'o discovered he had allegedly been duped, he continued interviews and stuck to his story. His alibi was that he didn't want the truth to come out before Notre Dame's BCS Championship Game against Alabama due to the damage it would do to the Irish team.

So if you want to cut him some slack and agree that he was totally naïve about the alleged hoax, don't forget he did turn liar after he learned the truth and still kept the hoax alive.

I think at the least, Te'o has some issues. How deeply imbedded they are, only he knows. Te'o, who will be in the NFL later this year, is not like Armstrong. I don't see any lawsuits aimed his way.

It was a bizarre hoax, but unless something unknown bubbles to the surface that involves Te'o, he will have to deal with being the butt of jokes the late night comics come up with. They may last a long time.

There is the mock picture of a Sports Illustrated swimsuit cover in which Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron's girlfriend, model and former Miss Alabama USA Katherine Webb, is on it.

Next to Witt is Kekua. Under her name is an empty bikini. Clever.

Think of the abuse NFL opponents will hurl his way this season. Because of its complexity and the interest it created, Te'o will always be remembered for the dead girlfriend who never existed, no matter how many tackles he makes or Pro Bowls he plays in.

They are two very different tales.

Both, in their own ways, are built on lies.

Contact Sports Columnist Joe Biddle at

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